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City of Ghosts (2017)

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A documentary that follows the efforts of "Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently," a handful of anonymous activists who banded together after their homeland was taken over by ISIS in 2014. ... See full summary »


Matthew Heineman
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 15 wins & 30 nominations. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Hamoud Almousa ... Himself
Hussam Hussam ... Himself
Mohamad Almusari Mohamad Almusari ... Himself
Hassan Hassan ... Hamoud's brother
Naji Jerf Naji Jerf ... Himself (archive footage)
Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi ... Himself (archive footage)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Abdelaziz Alhamza ... Himself


A documentary that follows the efforts of "Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently," a handful of anonymous activists who banded together after their homeland was taken over by ISIS in 2014. With deeply personal access, this is the story of a brave group of citizen journalists as they face the realities of life undercover, on the run, and in exile, risking their lives to stand up against one of the greatest evils in the world today. Written by Production

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Our words are stronger than their weapons


Documentary | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for disturbing violent content, and for some language | See all certifications »






Release Date:

21 July 2017 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

City of Ghosts: Raqqa See more »

Filming Locations:

Turkey See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

$128,015, 7 September 2017
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Our Time Projects See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs



See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Amazon paid $2 million for the rights to the film. See more »


Featured in Docventures: Valta ja ISIS (2018) See more »


Broken Wing
Written by Jackson Greenberg, Wasfi Massarani & H. Scott Salinas
Performed by Wasfi Massarani
See more »

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User Reviews

Journalistic heroism redefined
20 August 2017 | by Paul AllaerSee all my reviews

"City of Ghosts" (2017 release; 93 min.) is a documentary about the city of Raqqa under the dictatorship of ISIS, and a group of citizen journalists determined to expose the atrocities to the world. As the movie opens, we see one of the citizen journalists of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS) getting ready to accept the 2015 CPJ International Press Freedom Award in New York. We then go back in time, to the Arab Spring events, when Raqqa ran the Assad regime out of town, only to then get overrun by ISIS. A small group of citizen journalists puts clandestine footage on the internet, showing what ISIS really is doing. Fearing for their lives, some of them flee Raqqa (to Turkey and Germany), "and that's when the real war between us and ISI began", says one of them. At this point we're 15 min. into the documentary.

Couple of comments: this is the latest documentary from producer-writer-director Matthew Heineman, whose previous documentary, the outstanding "Cartel Land" got an Oscar nomination (and should've won, but that's just me). As soon as I saw his name associated with this, I knew we would be in for one riveting film. And I was right. Filmed mostly in 2014-15, it gives a chilling account of what the ISIS regime truly is like. Beware: there is gruesome and shocking footage (much of which was shown blurred in US mainstream media) so this is not for the faint of heart. But it is so important that the world becomes better aware what really is going on there. The real heroes of this film are of course the RBSS journalists who are secretly filming the events in Raqqa and then transmit the footage to the RBSS journalists in Turkey and Germany. Each and every one of them somehow needs to deal with living each day knowing that ISIS would like to do nothing better than to kill every single one of them. I cannot even begin to imagine what that must feel like.

"City of Ghosts" premiered to universal critical acclaim at this year's Sundance Film Festival. No idea why it's taken so long for this to get released in theaters, but the film finally opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The Sunday early afternoon screening where I saw this at turned out to be a private screening. I literally was the only person there, sad to say. I happen to love a good documentary, and when it is about a topic as important as this one, that only makes it better. If you have any interest in understanding what is going on in Raqqa, Syria, by all means make sure to catch this movie, be it in the theater, on VD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.

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